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It's Everybody's Business

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It's Everybody's Business

Published 1954

Corporate Cold War-era cartoon linking Bill of Rights to free-enterprise ideology.

Run time 19:53
Producer Sutherland (John) Productions, Inc.
Sponsor U.S. Chamber of Commerce / E.I. duPont de Nemours & Co., Inc.
Audio/Visual Sd, C


The end of World War II did not bring peace at home. Nuclear anxiety, anti-Communism and international political realignments fueled the Cold War and turned our country's media landscape into a battleground from the late 1940s on. In the press, on the radio, and increasingly through the newly emerging medium of television, business and labor struggled for power over the national consciousness. Seeking a prize worth much more than public consent, these opposing forces fought to redefine the economic structure of the nation.
To most working people, postwar "normalcy" meant a final farewell to Depression-induced privation, access to consumer goods unavailable during the war years, and a redistribution of the economic pie through the newly powerful labor movement. To business, however, the end of hostilities promised freedom from New Deal liberalism. Corporations sought an end to planning and government influence, to communist, socialist and labor movements, and above all, shrinkage of the public sector, swollen in sixteen years of economic depression and war. Both sides characterized their points of view as patriotic and their opponents as un-American.
Business fought for influence through organizations like the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and the National Association of Manufacturers. Their intentions were presented as lofty and neutral: to educate Americans about our economic system and its benefits. Launching a giant propaganda offensive, these organizations pumped out press releases, published books, organized public and private meetings, bought advertising and produced motion pictures.
It's Everybody's Business links the Bill of Rights to the tenets of free-enterprise ideology, "interlocking inseparably the blocks of our political and economic freedom." This strategy expresses not only the opinions of the film's sponsors, but is also a skillful attempt to co-opt liberal discourse, which sought to champion the Bill of Rights against McCarthyite excesses. By linking freedom and patriotism with the market economy the movie tries to manufacture universal consensus.
Like other Sutherland productions (Make Mine Freedom, Meet King Joe and A Is For Atom), this employs a "stealth" strategy. Self-deprecating humor prevails, perhaps because the films were made to play before distracted and highly skeptical audiences, and the targets of this humor include our consumer culture and the dubious innovations it creates.
Aside from self-deprecating humor, this film features several memorable visual devices: the "tax monster," the tidal wave of war, and the animated paper money riding on the train.

Ken Smith sez: This John Sutherland cartoon glorifies the American consumption economy, and tells its viewers that it would be unpatriotic not to "risk your savings in our competitive business system." Watch for the many scenes where anthropomorphized dollar bills run around frantically, and don't miss the relentless, money-sucking tax monster. The Freedoms Foundation awarded this film its gold honor medal as "the best film developed in the United States during 1954 to further better understanding of the American way of life." In Technicolor.

U.S. Chamber of Commerce Cartoons Animation Accents (Scottish) Capitalism Business Free enterprise Economics Advertising Sales Competition Money (animated) Money Distribution Manufacturing Consumerism Gender roles Graphs Surrealism Blood Football (huddles) Huddles (football) Executives (animated) Marketing Manufacturing Assembly lines (animated) Parades (commercial) Wars (effect on business)


Reviewer: spacekraken - - February 15, 2017
Subject: .
Reviewer: Tomino - favoritefavoritefavoritefavoritefavorite - February 11, 2011
Subject: Excellent!
Very good little movie. This is technically propaganda, but that doesn't mean its pushing something wrong. It explains how business and competition works. It says that we pay taxes to have schools, hospitals, roads, fire and police departments, aid to the needy ( depicted as nursing home ), and obviously national defense. It also says that we shouldn't want the government to provide non essential services since they have to be paid for by higher taxes. Things like privacy in your home etc...

It's fairly vague which lets children watching it make up their own mind about it.
Reviewer: Fighter For Freedom - - May 5, 2010
Subject: Wow, please think through this
I'm surprised that many of you thought much of this film. This short story is propaganda, it uses faulty reasoning, it contradicts itself. It says that we have all these great happy freedoms, and then says that oh, part of this is paying taxes so we can have.....welfare? I'm okay with people getting together (as in a city) and deciding to institute a system which they will pay for to help the needy. But taking people's money for others is just plain not freedom. There are lots of other things along this line shown in this film, please use you common sense, don't believe everything people tell you, question it.

Another thing, this film does (like i talked about before) have socialist content. Propaganda should not be shown in schools. We should show our children films that make people think and reason for themselves, that show people the completely logical reasons for freedom and how freedom works, this can be done very simply, it does not have to be complicated, but let's educate people, not propagandize them.
Reviewer: Ron Raygun - favorite - January 16, 2010
Subject: A Cartoon for Everybody's Business?
I normally wouldn't expect a cartoon to explain something as serious as "Everybody's Business", but since this film was produced for the U.S. Air Force by DuPont funding, it is typical of the Military Industrial Complex. If the Air Force thinks it's enlistments are so stupid as to the "American Way", then maybe it should re-write its entrance tests.
Another waste of taxpayer money.
Reviewer: Dodsworth the Cat - - July 19, 2009
Subject: The credits
Sutherland employed some exceptional people, and apparently had money to toss around.

Bill Scott, who had written in Art Davis' units later went to write and voice cartoons for Jay Ward Productions in 1959 (he was Bullwinkle and Dudley Do-Right, among others). His unhappy experience at Sutherland are outlined in the book 'The Moose That Roared', where's quoted as having a basic philosophical difference from the messages Sutherland put on screen.

Associate Producer George Gordon had headed his own unit at MGM during WW2, after going to Metro from Terrytoons in New York. Carl Urbano had been an MGM animator in Rudy Ising's unit and worked on the first Tom and Jerry cartoon.

Maurice Noble was Chuck Jones' designer; Noble was away from Warners for several years in the middish-50s.

Bill Melendez is known today for the Peanuts specials, but moved from Disney to Warners in the early 40s and animated for Bob Clampett and several others as J.C. Melendez. Emery Hawkins worked at a number of studios, including Columbia, Warners and Lantz, while Abe Levitow was in Jones' unit at Warners, first as an assistant (to Ken Harris, I believe) and then as an animator. He ended up at UPA directing TV cartoons.

Eugene Poddany was Carl Stalling's copyist at Warners and later composed for Jones when he went to MGM. Les Baxter was a composer for Capitol and was responsible for the Lassie TV show theme (with the whistling open). Many of his instrumental albums are beloved by exotica fans today.

And MacDonald Carey is probably best-known today for his role on Days of Our Lives, where he read the intro of the show over the hourglass.

Herb Vigran is the voice of Jonathan. His Bon Ton jingle is a cute parody of the old Pepsi jingle.
Reviewer: AlexJonesLemming - favoritefavorite - December 11, 2008
I love capitalism so much I think I'm going to give $5000 to $10000 or more directly to the capitalists to help them out, especially those finance capitalists. Poor fellas.

Michael Hudson pointed out, SOME FORCES control every economy. There is no such thing as one which is not controlled, especially in today's interconnected world.

Therefore, either DEMOCRATIC GOVERNANCE (We the People) have our sayso and control, or else other dominant elements such as PRIVATE BANKS AND SPECULATORS control it all according to their loan-sharking desires and just a few years ago.
(Loan shark interest = good. Taxes = bad.)
Then, uncontrollled and unreported speculative "investments" by hedge funds, newfangled "credit default swaps", and HUNDREDS of TRILLIONS in derivatives with no bottom.

In other words, more credit/debt bubble. Greenspan taught that inflating mortgages = WEALTH! --- which is false. Yet McCain was spouting that same idea.
Reviewer: HaRDCoRe_CaRTooN_JuNKiE25 - favoritefavoritefavoritefavorite - January 23, 2008
Subject: wow...
i love how the cartoon makes America look so shiny and awesome.. when we all know the truth..
entertaining and rather informative...
enjoyable.. its ok..
Reviewer: Aurelius - favoritefavoritefavoritefavoritefavorite - January 22, 2008
Subject: Superb Educational Film!
This has got to be the simplest film in educating the masses of the world about how Capitalism and Freedom work hand in hand together to provide and create wealth and how societies evolve successfully. This should be reissued and promoted (voluntarily) in our public schools. All those who decry this film or its components have likely already been indoctrinated by the small but vociferous percentage of socialist, soak the rich, equal poverty for all, educators who secretly sabotage capitalism, by indoctrinating the young, mainly because their salary is paid by the state - not by ability or competition. This bitterness and desire to see America become a welfare state, of "We Want This!" and where competition is thwarted, is clearly warned against in this film. Government never provides the wealth of the nation. It can't, unless it becomes imperialistic and seizes wealth. The folks who expect the government to do all things for all people are following a dead end. The other warning is really clear - don't let too much industrial capacity be exported overseas and we are simply enriching other nations instead of the American Worker. I've shown this film to 5th grade children up through teenagers and most suddenly grasp the bigger picture of what Capitalism is all about. And Ayn Rand need never be mentioned :-) That's what this film and it's corny but effective 50's style accomplishes.
If only the rest of the 3rd world could see it and learn the formula for improving quality of life to untold heights!

A great educational film! Five Stars!
Reviewer: Spuzz - favoritefavoritefavoritefavorite - September 9, 2003
Subject: Merrie Melodies this is not.
Surprisingly well animated short detailing what's RIGHT about America, eg free enterprise, the right where we choose to work, where to live etc. I was quite interested in the animation work done here as it seems to be very different from the animation commonly drawn in the 1950's. Quite fluid, interesting story, this is reccomended!
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